SHOPPERS have deserted Ayr High Street leading to an 8.3 per cent increase in shop closures making it the second worst in Scotland.

All areas in the country surveyed, recorded an overall decrease in shops, with Leith having the highest rate of closures with a 10.53 per cent drop, followed by Ayr’s 8.3 per cent fall.

It was revealed that more shops closed in Scotland than in any other part of Britain last year with one shutting each day, researchers have found.

Jill Cronin, Head of Enterprise, Development and Leisure, said: “Ayr is in the same position as many town centres across the country and is looking to adapt to reflect changing shopping habits such as increasing competition from online sellers.”

Banks, fashion outlets and charity shops were hardest hit as 366 stores shut and 254 opened across Scotland in 2016, according to new figures.

Fast-food outlets were among the most popular new stores with 14 opening, followed by ten convenience stores, ten tobacconists and seven new television equipment servicing firms.

The fastest-growing retailers were in leisure, hearing aids, tobacconists and Marks & Spencer food outlets where a store opened recently at Heathfield Retail Park.

The falls were partially offset as more stores were opened in Scotland than elsewhere in Britain, except in the north-east of England, said the PwC research compiled by the Local Data Company.

It can be argued that many independent businesses in Ayr, as well as major outlets including Monsoon and BHS shut up shop.

Ayr town centre is due to be included in further regeneration projects which aims to focus shopping areas in one section of the town and limit development at Heathfield.

This was discussed at the 2017 budget meeting for South Ayrshire as a whole. 

These proposals are due to move onto the next stage following approval from Holyrood.

It is hoped, if successful, major developments will be focussed on the town with planning in the outskirts being confined so it doesn’t affect the potential success of the community. 

The council want to make sure that the right shops are located carefully
Ms Cronin added: “The Council is working with partners such as Ayr Renaissance and local businesses through the Ayr Town Centre Steering group to improve the attractiveness of the town centre for the public and increase footfall.

“This will be achieved by redeveloping parts of the high street.

“This includes introducing new markets selling local produce and holding more events and activities in the heart of the town.”